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Fatal case of invasive pneumococcal disease under CHP investigation
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (March 8) investigating a fatal case of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) affecting a 5-year-old boy.

     The patient, with good past health, had presented with fever, cough and shortness of breath since February 10. He was admitted to Tseung Kwan O Hospital on February 13 and was referred to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) of Princess Margaret Hospital on the same day. He was subsequently transferred to the PICU of Queen Mary Hospital on March 5 for further management and passed away today.

     His clinical diagnoses were sepsis and pneumonia complicated with empyema and pneumothorax. His blood culture collected on February 13 tested positive for Streptoccocus pneumoniae (pneumococcus).

     Preliminary investigations revealed that the boy had no recent travel history while his home contacts remained asymptomatic. No other similar case or outbreak has been reported so far at the kindergarten he attended. Advice on prevention of respiratory infectious diseases has been delivered to the management of the kindergarten.

     Investigations by the CHP are ongoing.

     "IPD is caused by a type of bacteria called pneumococcus and has been included as one of the statutorily notifiable infectious diseases since January 9, 2015. Parents should seek medical consultation immediately if their children develop symptoms of respiratory tract infection, such as fever and cough, even if their children have been immunised with the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine," a spokesman for the CHP remarked.

     "Pneumococci are commonly found in the nose and throat of healthy people, particularly in children. They mainly spread from one person to another through coughing, sneezing or direct close contact. They can also spread via contact with materials soiled with sputum or nasal discharges of the infected," the spokesman explained.

     However, the spokesman added, "As no existing vaccine can confer protection against all serotypes and IPD can occur even in vaccinated individuals, members of the public, regardless of vaccination history, should observe strict personal and environmental hygiene against infection."

     To prevent pneumococcal infection, the CHP appealed to members of the public to take heed of the following advice:

* Keep hands clean and wash them properly; alcohol-based handrub is also effective when hands are not visibly soiled;
* Wash hands with liquid soap promptly when they are soiled by nasal discharges or sputum, for example, after sneezing or coughing;
* Cover the nose and mouth with tissue paper while sneezing or coughing;
* Always wrap nasal and mouth discharges with tissue paper. Dispose of soiled tissue paper properly in a lidded rubbish bin;
* Wear a mask when symptoms of respiratory tract infection develop;
* Do not share utensils and wash them thoroughly after use;
* Maintain good ventilation in indoor areas; and
* Avoid attending crowded and poorly ventilated public places if feeling unwell.

     Members of the public can visit the CHP's website for general information about the infection.
Ends/Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:34
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